Photo Gallery: Bizarre Gifts from the Morbid Anatomy Holiday Fair

It’s the perennial, cliched holiday dilemma: What do you get the person who has everything? Well, how about a skunk skull? Or a stuffed baby duckling? Perhaps a glinting beetle trapped in amber? For those whose tastes run towards the morbid, unusual, or just plain creepy, the Morbid Anatomy Holiday Fair in Gowanus had all the gifting solutions you could hope for. Click through for the best selections of the day, from ghastly ornaments to taxidermied trinkets. … Read More

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The Worst Nicknames in Rock

Editor’s note: Some parents name their kids after family members, living or dead. Others take inspiration from religion or history. But what about those of us who worship at the altar of pop culture? Back in 2010, we published Margaret Eby’s “Rock ‘n Roll Baby Name Dictionary” on Flavorwire. Today, Gotham Books releases a much-expanded version, Rock and Roll Baby Names, which details both the meanings of names and the associations they’ve picked up through pop music. For expectant parents and rock nerds alike, it’s a fascinating journey through musical history. A version of the list below appears in the book and has been reprinted by permission.

There are cool names, there are interesting and edgy names, and then there are those nicknames that make you wince a little. Avoid naming your children after these rock models at all cost, lest they be in a world of hurt on the grade school playground. … Read More

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10 Great TV Crossover Episodes

Television crossover events, like this week’s buzzed-about meeting between Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, are by nature complicated. Sending the characters of a lesser-known series into a more established hit (or vice versa) is a time-honored move for studios, but making the grammar of two shows mesh isn’t always easy. Take the notorious episode of The Simpsons that crossed over with The Critic, a FOX-arranged partnership that Simpsons creator Matt Groening considered enough of an imposition on his creation that he removed his name from the credits in protest. But at their best, TV crossovers encapsulate that marvelous feeling you get when two pieces of pop culture wink at each other from across the room. When they’re done well, crossover episodes are tiny links in the sprawling fictional universe of television, from Kramer’s turn on Mad About You to Detective Munch’s appearance on Arrested Development. We count down ten great crossover television episodes, after the jump. … Read More

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Analyzing Pop Stars’ Obsessions with Childhood Icons

Over the years, we’ve noticed that some of our favorite pop artists have tastes that skew towards the bright, bubbly, and intended-for-children. Cartoon couture is everywhere, from Lil Wayne’s leopard print Mickey Mouse T-shirt to Katy Perry’s Betty Boop-inspired dresses. But what exactly does that say about the pop star in question? Sure, Britney Spears’ mouse ears reference her time spent in the Mickey Mouse Club, but for others the meaning is not so clear. We take a crack at some pop (music) psychology about pop stars and their childhood idols, after the jump. … Read More

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2012 Grammy Awards: The Night’s Weirdest Moments

Last night’s Grammy Awards ceremony was possibly the most awkward product to come out of the music industry since, well, last year’s terrible John Mayer “Jolene” tribute at the Grammys. The inevitable red-carpet polling about Whitney Houston’s death ranged from cringe-worthy to outright ghoulish, and the range of impromptu supergroups was baffling, disturbing, and eccentric, to say the least. From Bon Iver’s mumbled acceptance speech to Brian Wilson’s never-wished-for collaboration with Maroon 5 and Foster the People, the whole night was full of moments that made music lovers scratch our heads and wonder whether the entire show had been pasted together from various YouTube mash-ups. And yet, we could have probably guessed that this ceremony would be bizarre as soon as we glimpsed Nicki Minaj on the red carpet with a fake pope. We count down the weirdest moments of the 2012 Grammys, after the jump. … Read More

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Music’s 10 Greatest Hype Men

People always joke about the member of the band who plays the tambourine, but think about it: Where would live music be without the back-up dancer, the ludicrously outfitted hand-clapper, the guy whose sole job is to amp up the crowd by shouting, “Hoookayyyy!” over and over? Not only can they be critical members of rock bands and rap crews, but it’s also a role that can lead to a solo career — both Jay-Z and Tupac started out as hype men. Below, we’ve collected the best representatives of the most underrated role in music. … Read More

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50 Things You Didn’t Know About Axl Rose

Today, Axl Rose, the king of wailing, bandanna-wearing hard rock, turns 50 years old. It’s been an eventful five decades for Rose, who’s busted up more cars, relationships, and video shoots than most of us will ever see. We’re resisting the urge to pile on the Guns N’ Roses frontman, who has recently taken a beating in the media for everything from his bizarre statements to his appearance, in favor of celebrating with a list of little known Axl trivia, from his crucifix collection to his favorite books. Rock on. … Read More

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Pop Musicians Who Should Be Superstars But Aren’t

Pop music isn’t limited to stalwarts like Madonna and upstart sleaze/sugar addicts like Ke$ha. In fact, there’s a whole world of artists that seemingly contradict the genre, pop musicians with songs that are just as much bouncy, bubblegum, beat-filled fun as the average Top 40 single, but aren’t nearly popular enough. From the electro-pop heartland of Sweden to the cramped laptops of Brooklyn, there’s a lot of delicious pop that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. Our picks for musicians we wish would replace “Moves Like Jagger” already, after the jump. … Read More

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The World’s Weirdest Weather Predicting Traditions

Today is Groundhog Day, when loyal citizenry, local mayors, and rookie reporters troop to zoos across the country to eagerly await a midsize rodent’s reaction to the morning weather. Wiarton Willie, Punxsutawney Phil, and Staten Island Chuck will all have their moment in the sun (or cloud cover), and, meteorologic equipment be damned, we might still believe just a little bit that they hold the power in their tiny paws to banish the remaining weeks of wintery doldrums. Groundhog Day is perhaps the weirdest nationally acknowledged day of observance, stemming from a Pennsylvania German tradition in which a badger or bear would perform the groundhog duties. But it’s far from the world’s only piece of bizarre weather predicting lore. From watching a cow tail to gauging the height of wasp nests, these traditions will have you feeling grateful for The Weather Channel. … Read More

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10 of the Best Animated Music Videos Ever

Wilco’s new video for “Dawned on Me” combines some of the things dearest to our hearts: Jeff Tweedy and old black-and-white Popeye shorts. It’s a clip that’s both fun and visually interesting, not to mention the first hand-drawn Popeye cartoon that’s appeared in the last 30-something years. But Wilco is far from the first band to hit upon the idea of including animation in their music videos. Cartoons in videos stretch back from the days of a-ha’s “Take On Me” through Björk and Radiohead. After the jump, check out ten of the best animated music videos we’ve ever seen — tell us about your personal favorites in the comments. … Read More

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